With the war on obesity, the search for weight loss methods is at an all time high, be it novel diets, exercise regimens or weight loss supplements. Nowadays, people are obsessed with dieting and willing to do whatever it takes to shed their flab. All kinds of weight loss diets based on half baked non-scientific theories that hit the trial approach are gaining popularity. The number of diets and diet claims are continuing to grow and are almost impossible to keep pace with.
Fad diets advocate arbitrary exaggerated theories of weight loss and encourage consumers to follow unbalanced diets. They are a short term, quick fix approach to weight loss. Several feed the fantasy of consumers and are planned on favourite foods which are actually junk foods. These diets tend to over-promise results but fail to deliver. In many, food choices are monotonous and calorie intake restricted leading to wearing-off the motivation to continue. All these can lead to poor health with consequences ranging to mild ones like headaches, nausea, dizziness, hair-fall to as serious as immunity related diseases, hormonal imbalances and gallstones, if followed for long spells of time.
After trying and failing to keep weight off through such fad diets or powders or pills, many give up, become victims of depression or re-invent theories and diets to rid themselves of fat. Whether the reasons for dieting are cosmetic or health related, slimming need not involve fad diets or peculiar eating patterns. Weight loss is a journey and there are no miracles.
Diets will work when they are designed for nutrition, based on scientific principles, customized for long-term and emphasize on behavior modification through counseling. Adopting principles of healthy eating and mindful eating are all that it takes to keep those extra pounds off.
How to spot FAD Diets or scam weight loss programmes
- If they claim or imply a large or quick weight loss of more than 1 to 2 pounds per week.
- Promote magical and miracle foods.
- Restrict drastically or eliminate certain foods, recommend certain foods in large quantities, insist on eating specific food combinations, or offer rigid inflexible menus.
- If they imply that weight can be lost and maintained without exercise and other lifestyle changes.
- Their rationale is inconsistent and without accepted scientific belief.
- They rely heavily on undocumented literature- case histories, testimonials, and anecdotes but hav little scientific research to back claims.
- Contradict most trusted health professionals, or make promises that sound too good to be true. Involve deception, misinformation or significant danger.
- Do not allow you to eat with friends and family comfortably.
- Prescribe a uniform diet for all without taking into account individual needs.
- Difficult to maintain throughout life.
Principles of a good weight loss programme
- It should be derived from scientific principles of weight loss and encourage healthy eating practices – whole grains, pulses, fresh fruits, vegetables, low fat dairy and essential fats.
- Variety, moderation and balance.
- Should not eliminate any major food group and allow favorite foods from time to time.
- Encourage other healthy life style habits like exercise, weight training, stress management and behaviour modification.
- Address the nutrition needs and not simply calories.
- Prescribed by qualified health professionals.
- Should not contradict or violate traditional wisdom and cultural food practices drastically.
- It should be customized to meet individual needs and life styles that can be followed for life.
- Finally, it should help you maintain a steady weight loss of no more than two to four kgs.
*Image courtesy: © Thinkstock photos/ Getty Images
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